The specialized bulk liquid transportation market faces unique challenges. These challenges continue to shrink the capacity available for trucking companies and their customers. Keep reading to learn why the capacity is decreasing, and how that will impact the industry for years to come.
Increased Demand for Fracking Creates a Gas and Oil Boom
The United States has experienced a surge in the demand for fracking production. Fracking, which stands for “hydraulic fracturing,” is a special drilling process that allows companies to reach natural gas and oil. This demand has caused the oil and gas industry to rebound after experiencing a decline. It also puts pressure on bulk trucks. These trucks are used to move chemicals and sand during the fracking process. This has greatly reduced the capacity for bulk liquid transportation.
A Growing Chemical Industry
Foreign chemical companies have recently started expanding into the United States and the rest of North America. In fact, many companies have stopped producing chemicals in their countries and have moved production entirely to North America. This has increased the demand for bulk liquid transportation. As long as these companies maintain a presence in North America, the demand should continue.
Government regulations are also reducing bulk liquid transportation capacity. The government now mandates that trucks are outfitted with electronic logging devices (ELDs). These devices are used as a safety measure to prevent drivers from spending too long on the roads. The device records all driving activity to ensure that drivers don’t go beyond the mandated hours of service rules. To stay in compliance, drivers might have to take weekly resets and go on occasional 10-hour breaks. Depending on when they have to take breaks, they might have to push back their loading and unloading duties. This will make it more difficult to stay on track.
While this can affect the entire liquid transportation industry, shipments that travel 450-600 miles will see the biggest impact. Because these shipments take longer than a day, drivers might undergo delays. When you add in heavy traffic and bad weather, those delays could get longer and more bothersome.
Natural disasters seem to be growing by the year. Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma had long recoveries that impacted the industry, and this is becoming the new normal. When natural disasters occur, the trucking industry has to step in to help rebuild the infrastructure and restock shelves. This can also impact the liquid trucking industry since natural disasters often impact chemical facilities. Expect natural disasters to continue to burden the liquid trucking industry in the years to come.
Shortage of Drivers
The bulk liquid transportation industry is also experiencing a significant driver shortage that will get worse in the coming years as many drivers reach retirement age. The industry has a difficult time attracting young drivers, which is a serious concern. Also, women are hesitant to join a trucking team. The industry must find a way to bring on young drivers, including women, to fill the demand. Some believe that close to a million new drivers will be needed in the next decade. That won’t be possible without crossing gender and age lines. Fortunately, trucking companies are taking steps to reach younger drivers.
These challenges might seem impossible to overcome, but they aren’t. The key is to work with an experienced liquid transportation company, like Liquid Trucking. Experience is a key driver in overcoming supply chain issues by using the correct internal protocols and maximizing payloads. Feel free to reach out to us to learn more about how you can overcome the challenges and come out on top.